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"Trains and Boats and Planes"
Single by Burt Bacharach and his Orchestra & Chorus
from the album Hit Maker!: Burt Bacharach plays the Burt Bacharach Hits
A-side "Trains and Boats and Planes"
B-side "Wives and Lovers"
Released May 1965
Genre Traditional pop
Label Kapp / London
Songwriter(s) Burt Bacharach, Hal David

"Trains and Boats and Planes" is a song written by composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David, and first recorded in 1965. Hit versions were recorded by Bacharach and by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas in 1965, and by Dionne Warwick in 1966.

Original 1965 recordings[edit]

Bacharach and David wrote the song at a time when they had achieved great popular success, and Bacharach in particular was traveling widely to record and promote his songs. The pair intended the song to be recorded by Gene Pitney, who had had several hits with earlier Bacharach and David songs including "Only Love Can Break a Heart" and "Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa". However, Pitney declined to record it, telling Bacharach "it's not one of your better ones".[1] Bacharach then recorded it, in London, with an orchestra, chorus, and uncredited vocals by female session singers The Breakaways.[2] His version was issued on the album Hit Maker!: Burt Bacharach plays the Burt Bacharach Hits in 1965, and as a single. According to writer Serene Dominic, the Breakaways' "dispassionate delivery blends perfectly with Hal David's haunted verses, which give all the responsibility for coming and going to the transportation and not the passengers ... Trains and boats and planes are capable of bringing back someone they took away, if the person they left behind prays hard enough for their return."[1]

While a special show was being recorded by Bacharach at the Granada TV studios in Manchester, producer Johnnie Hamp heard the song and had it offered to a group who also recorded there, the Four Just Men (who later recorded as Wimple Winch). However they also turned it down, and the song then came to the attention of Brian Epstein, who suggested that Billy J. Kramer record it.[3] Kramer's recording was released at about the same time as Bacharach's own version, and both recordings entered the UK singles chart the same week in May 1965. Other, less successful, versions were issued in the UK around the same time by Anita Harris and Alma Cogan, and a recording was made in French by Claude François ("Quand un bateau passe").[1][4] Within the same year, a German language version, ("Frag Doch Nur Dein Herz") was recorded by Die Five Tops.[5]

Bacharach's version reached no. 4 on the UK chart in 1965, while Kramer's recording reached no. 12 in the UK, becoming his final chart hit.[6] When released in the US, Kramer's version reached no. 47 on the Billboard Hot 100,[7] and no. 10 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart.[8]

Dionne Warwick version[edit]

Dionne Warwick recorded the song in 1966. Her version was arranged and conducted by Bacharach, and produced by Bacharach and David. It spent 7 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and reached no. 22 on August 6, 1966.[9] Warwick's version also reached no. 37 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart[10] and no. 49 on Billboard's Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart.[11]

Other recordings[edit]

Other recordings include those by Chet Baker (1966), the Everly Brothers, the Box Tops, The Shadows, Joanie Sommers, Dinah Shore (all 1967), Astrud Gilberto (1969), Fred Frith (1997), Fountains of Wayne (2003), Dwight Yoakam (2003), and Laura Cantrell on her 2008 EP Trains and Boats and Planes.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Serene Dominic, Burt Bacharach, Song by Song: The Ultimate Burt Bacharach Reference, Music Sales Group, 2003, pp.140-141
  2. ^ The Breakaways, Retrieved 10 February 2015
  3. ^ "Four Just Men", Manchester Beat. Retrieved 10 February 2015
  4. ^ "Trains and Boats and Planes", cover versions, SecondhandSongs. Retrieved 10 February 2015
  5. ^
  6. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 433. ISBN 0-00-717931-6. 
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 392. ISBN 0-89820-155-1. 
  8. ^ "Billboard Top 40 Easy Listening", Billboard, August 7, 1965. p. 18. Accessed June 9, 2016.
  9. ^ Dionne Warwick - Chart History - The Hot 100, Accessed June 9, 2016
  10. ^ Dionne Warwick - Chart History - Adult Contemporary, Accessed June 9, 2016.
  11. ^ Dionne Warwick - Chart History - Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Accessed June 9, 2016.


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